DYNASTY OVER

The Patriots Dynasty officially lost a critical member of their historic run. Tom Brady announced his decision to depart the New England Patriots shortly before agreeing to terms to become the next starting QB for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After two decades filled with six championships, nine conference titles and complete domination of the AFC East, the Belichick Brady duo is no more. The trophy train in New England may be coming to an end.

Given the fact that the sports world is on pause, expect the pundits on ESPN and Fox Sports to obsess over every detail of this major move. Many of these pundits called for this exact set of circumstances.

One has to question, and they will, whether this is the best move to pursuit number seven. Interesting to see how well Brady and the Bucs match up against Drew Brees and the Saints twice a year.

The NFC is perceived to have less obstacles, but there a teams poised for the Lombardi trophy as well. Can Brady best Rodgers, Wilson, Wentz, and Prescott? Three of which have rings. One indirectly at the expense of Brady!

Not sure what will be more shocking. The sports world coming to a complete halt or seeing Brady in a uniform other than the Patriots number 12. Interesting to see what Brady has left in the tank after what was a down year for the all-time great.

ALL STAR GAMES

Every major American sports league holds an All-Star game, celebrating the standout performers in their respective leagues. While the NBA, MLB, and NHL use their game to provide a near midseason break, the NFL celebrates after the entire season is played.

The idea of showcasing the best performers in a league is a great one. Regional fans get an opportunity to see the depth and quality of their sport, watching players they may never seen before. Unfortunately, the performances do not always match the talent.

The best part about All-Star games are the selections of the teams and the heavy debates of the snubs. The worst part of the game usually is the game itself. Despite the level of talent, the risk of injury understandably prevents maximum effort.

The Pro Bowl and the MLB All Star game still resemble a watered-down version of the actual sport, while the NBA and NHL games become entertaining offensive displays but devolve quickly in to pick up games.

There really is no real solution to improving the products, nor should there be. Changing the structure of the game or how teams are selected are novelties but yield little entertainment value over time.

Making the game the decider of homefield advantage for the sports’ championship is a step too far. Those decisions are best served by the contending teams playing in actual meaningful games.

These games are a showcase of talent, which still provide a great number of reasons to watch the games. Seeing home team heroes play amongst the league’s best or watching great players play with other greats or even their rivals is entertaining.

Many people complain about the quality of these games, me included at times. But maybe our perspectives should change. Accept the game as simply as its intended. A showcase giving recognition to the sports’ top performers. There’s entertainment value in that.

PIECE OF METAL

The more MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred speaks about the Houston Astros sign stealing scandal, the worse it gets for him and the sport. There is a great level of backlash surrounding the perception of the assigned punishments and poor choice of words Manfred used in his defense.

There are legitimate questions surrounding the approach in assigning punishments. MLB deemed the sign stealing scandal a player driven scandal, yet MLB issued no player punishments. Why? Because MLB wanted to avoid potential conflicts with the players union. Manfred seems to downplay it, but one has to question whether he can stand up to the union when it matters most.

Manfred acknowledges poor choice of words when deeming the Commissioner’s Trophy a piece of metal.That piece of metal the 30 MLB teams play for is important not only for the 750+ players, but fans who buy the tickets and serve as the basis for the ad revenue. Fans do not want to see their favorite teams and stars shortchanged because of fraudulent actions.

The Hall of Fame will once again become the arbiter of justice when this group of players become eligible for consideration. Another era, another scandal kicked down the road.

SUPER BOWL BEFORE & AFTER

PREDICTION: 

The 49ers have a productive offensive but feature a stifling defense that humbled many high-powered offenses. On the other hand, the Chiefs have a dynamic offense with a defense that got better every week.

There are many great storylines in this Super Bowl. Redemption for Kyle Shannon who almost got a ring against the Patriots in 2016. Redemption for Andy Reid who fell to the Patriots in 2004.

Part of the fun during the two weeks separating the conference championship games and the Super Bowl is predicting the winner as well as the possible score.

If I had to pick who I believe will win the Super Bowl, I would lean towards the Kansas Chiefs because I believe their offense will be a bit too much for the 49ers to contain for 4 quarters.

I believe the game will be high scoring. Players like Tyreek Hill, Travis Kelce, and Patrick Mahomes should tip the scale in favor of the Chiefs. The Chiefs score fast and often.

Defense wins championships. The 49ers have a great defense spearheaded by Sherman and Bosa. But, even great defenses can end up in a shoot-out in the biggest game.

Chiefs 35 49ers 31. The game ends on a Garoppolo interception.

RECAP: 

The biggest football games may be better in Miami. At least, this was a major step up from last year’s game, where the Patriots defeated the Rams in the most offensive anemic game in recent memory. Although Super Bowl 54 was not a shootout, both the Chiefs and 49ers competed in an entertaining game with a clear shift in the flow of momentum.

For the first 53 minutes, the 49ers appeared headed to join the Steelers and Patriots with 6 titles. But, the Chiefs turned on the switch while the 49ers went cold. The breakaway touchdown by Damian Williams was the worst-case scenario for the 49ers that needed to hold the Chiefs to a field goal in the clutch.

The only part of the prediction I got right was Jimmy Garoppolo’s last pass being an interception. Garoppolo had a great start to the game but missed some critical passes at the end to seal the 49ers fate. Unfortunately, Kyle Shanahan will have to spend another offseason dealing with controversial handling of play calling in a Super Bowl. In the biggest moments, one has to maximize scoring opportunities, which he let slip away at the end of the half.

Congratulations to the Kansas City Chiefs on their second Super Bowl. Special congratulations to Andy Reid in winning his long-awaited Super Bowl. As an avid Philadelphia Eagles fan, I rooted for our former coach of 14 years to finally capture the elusive Super Bowl. Hopefully, now the Philadelphia Eagles get back to winning and capture more titles.

GONE TOO SOON

The world lost an iconic sports legend in Kobe Bryant. One of the all-time NBA greats. A 5x NBA Champion, a 2x gold medalist, 8x NBA All Star, and even an Academy Award winner. A legendary Los Angeles Laker who transcended the game of basketball. Transcended the world of sports.

As a basketball fan, I appreciated his career achievements and accolades and enjoyed watch his performances during the playoffs and nationally televised games. As a lifelong Philly sports fan, an indelible memory for me was watching the video of his reaction to the Philadelphia Eagles winning the Super Bowl.

Beyond the stats, titles, and other memorable moments, Bryant leaves the world an important lesson that we should all take from his life. A lesson that should inspire us all in our everyday lives. While Bryant exemplified greatness, Kobe also worked for that greatness.

On the floor, Bryant made great plays look so easy. Tough shots looked guaranteed to go in. A result of his hard work, dedication, focus, and competitiveness. Bryant was the perfect example of what can happen when natural talent is blended with complete investment into one’s craft.

From all accounts, if Kobe was going to do something, he was going to be great at it. Not just average, but great. Not simply leveraging natural talent, but from the willingness to invest time and effort to the pursuit of greatness. The willingness to do the work and not skip the hard part for instant gratification.

Kobe Bryant dreamt big dreams and set his standards for himself. He also possessed the humility to realize and invest the effort needed to achieve those dreams. Bryant never shortchanged his fans, teammates, or anyone around him by pursuing shortcuts.

As the sports world prepares say goodbye way too soon, society embody the lessons his life taught us and carry on his legacy. Dream big. Find out what it will take to achieve that dream. Put in the work and take no shortcuts. Play it forward to those around you.

Condolences to all impacted. RIP Kobe Bryant #8 #24.